Welcome to 10-second 24/7 European payments

As Intesa Sanpaolo connects to an innovative, real-time cross-border payment system, Stefano Favale, head of global transaction banking, explains how transactions remain at the heart of the bank’s business.

Giulia Rhodes

15/09/2017

It will operate around the clock, every day of the year, in real time. Once a new platform for pan-European payments is up and running, banking customers will be able to forget ‘normal business hours’ and benefit from a process that takes no more than 10 seconds.

Following successful tests, in November Intesa Sanpaolo will become the first financial institution to connect to the system devised by EBA Clearing – a payment-infrastructure company jointly owned by 52 European banks.

Stefano Favale, Intesa Sanpaolo’s head of global transaction banking (GTB), says the move will not only offer significant benefits to clients, but also boost Intesa Sanpaolo’s commitment to global innovation.

With the bank now offering transactional services in 40 countries, supporting domestic clients as they too pursue overseas growth, this Europe-wide solution will move the bank closer to its goal: “To become a key player in Europe – and for our clients in all the countries we cover – both in terms of product and service.”

“GPI will dramatically change the level of service that banks provide in international payments. It represents a long-term programme and Intesa Sanpaolo will be a leading part of it”

Stefano Favale, Intesa Sanpaolo’s head of global transaction banking



Simplifying the formerly complex and sometimes slow procedures of cross-border payments will offer customers – retail and corporate – a “seamless” credit transfer link to more than 500m European citizens and companies. And, adds Favale, “they will need nothing aside from a current account” to access it.

At this stage the system will focus on the Single Euro Payments Area, composed of the EU member states, members of the European Free Trade Association, Monaco and San Marino, but the bank has also signed up to the Global Payments Innovation initiative (GPI) to further develop its expertise in international transactions.

Alongside cutting-edge systems, talented, dedicated staff and an effective structure give the bank a competitive advantage in the field of transactions

“GPI will dramatically change the level of service that banks provide in international payments. It represents a long-term programme and Intesa Sanpaolo will be a leading part of it,” says Favale.

Applications will include consumer credit, push payments, refunds and claims, high-value purchases, cash pooling and cash on delivery.

Key to the new system’s success is its ability to supply up-to-the-moment information, allowing payer, payee and service provider to be notified quickly when a payment has gone through, for example, allowing prompt delivery of goods to be arranged.

Extensive reach – both in terms of the number of banks and customers – is vital, adds Favale. The initial scope of the platform, covering the most urgent payments only – “to allow corporate clients to adapt to this new opportunity” – will be expanded fast. “We will onboard our foreign branches and extend the service to all eligible payments; same day and future value date as well.”

In addition, he continues, clients need flexibility. “Different customers may need different services and products.” In the future, he envisages offering a comprehensive set of services beyond payment infrastructure.

Efficiency and cost effectiveness are “of major importance”, and Favale believes that as the system rolls out, economies of scale, synergy and efficient liquidity management will optimise speed and value.

Transaction banking – part of the Corporate and Investment Banking Division since 2015 – is at the heart of Intesa Sanpaolo’s wider commitment to “innovation of products, excellence in commercial support and proactive development of partnerships”, explains Favale.

Alongside cutting-edge systems, talented, dedicated staff and an effective structure give the bank a competitive advantage in the field of transactions, says Favale.

A network of more than 150 cash and trade transaction specialists in Italy is supported by local desks in the bank’s international branches, overseen by centres in New York, London and Hong Kong.

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